The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) says the rise in examination malpractice from the 70s has deteriorated to sex for marks in the education system.
Dr Mike Ike-Ene, Secretary General of NUT, said this in an interview with our reporter on Thursday, in Abuja.
He said that as Nigeria marked its 61st Anniversary, it was important to x-ray the education sector and the challenges bedeviling it.
He decried that the examination malpractice witnessed during West African Examinations Council (WAEC) examination in 1970, seemingly opened the way for all forms of ill practices in the sector.
According to him, beyond malpractice, there were growing cases of bribery, intimidation, sex for marks among other things, saying all had contributed in no small measure to the fall in standard of education.
He said that there was no doubt that several education policies had evolved since independence to help reposition the education sector.
He also noted that progress had been made in the number of schools ranging from primary to tertiary institutions over the years among other things.
He, however, lamented that these factors had not significantly translated into improved quality of education in the country.
“Talking about how we have fared over the last 61 years, I want to say 61 years is not 61 days and by our law, anybody who is 60 years old in public service, by today is retired.
“So, from the time we got independence, if it is life, we have reached our peak and we are now returning.
“Meanwhile, measuring Nigeria’s growth in the education sector using global indices, we are not yet there but we are moving.
“There is a problem and that is the deteriorating school standard across the country,” he said.
According to him, the trend became noticeable immediately after the Nigeria civil war, where people were automatically promoted to class five and few months after they were asked to sit for WAEC.
“These are people who came back from war and had little or no time to prepare for examination.
“What they did was to enter examination halls with “expos” and the teachers were afraid of them because they were bigger than them, most of the men had grown beard.
“So, that was the recorded beginning of mass examination malpractice and it was called “expo 1970”.
“From then education standard began to fall,” he said.
Ike-Ene further lamented that, “in fact parents began to learn how to pay money for their wards and teachers began to receive money from their students to look the other way.
“People began to learn how to import people, called machineries and from that point we grew to the point where we have sex for marks.
“Today, somebody can gain admission without opening his or books and the person will come out with a 2.1.
“This has contributed greatly to the level of unemployment we have today because a lot of our graduates are unemployable.
“If you ask such people to write a page of 100 words, you will find 80 words wrong, so how do you employ such a person,” he said.
He noted that another critical factor affecting the growth of education in the country was poor budgetary allocation poor teachers welfare, cultism among others.
The secretary general stressed that while Nigeria’s education system had left “the point of crawling, a lot needs to be done.
“In terms of SDG -30, we are far behind and talk about first nine years of primary school, how many states are practicing the Universal Basic Education?”.
While attesting to the fact that several government policies had evolved since independence to help reposition the education sector as well as significant increase in the number of schools, not much progress had been made.
He called for concerted effort to restore the education standard.
The secretary general pointed out that the best gift anyone could give was education, adding that countries like UK, Singapore and Finland had education on their priority list.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his effort in that regard, particularly with regard to the welfare of teachers.
Ike-Ene called on various stakeholders in the sector to work with government to make the sector globally competitive.